The Waite Research Institute supported a superb and well-attended afternoon of talks last Friday 19 August at the Charles Hawker Conference Centre. All five speakers on the program have or had a Waite connection, a couple of them having spent some decades of their careers here, the others with more fleeting associations, but it was fitting these experts in their fields were reunited to speak in and around the topics of biofortification and global nutrition here at the Waite.
Dr Howarth Bouis is the 2016 World Food Prize Laureate, the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Agriculture. His fascinating presentation got straight to the heart of the global challenges presented by population growth, poverty, agricultural constraints, nutritional shortfalls (particularly due to vitamin A, iron and zinc deficiencies) and the consequences for human health and development. Capturing data gathered over decades of research in the field all over the world and demonstrating the real and encouraging progress made by HarvestPlus in biofortifying staple food crops such as maize and rice with critical vitamins and minerals, Dr Bouis highlighted the successes in plant breeding and human nutrition research, with challenges remaining in the areas of delivery, manufacturing and uptake.
Biofortified crops have now been released in 30 countries, with testing underway in a further 25. Sweet potato, Cassava, Beans and Maize have all been biofortified successfully and released in various African countries, with Pearl Millet, Rice and Wheat the main targets to date in Asia.
The other presenters included Dr James Stangoulis from Flinders University, Dr Ross Welch (a former USDA Scientist of the Year from Cornell University), Dr Graham Lyons and Dr Chuenyuan Huang (University of Adelaide).
Pictured L-R: Professor Robin Graham, Dr Howarth Bouis, Dr Ross Welch, Associate Professor James Stangoulis, Dr Graham Lyons and Dr. Chunyuan Huang